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Film Study: Stephon Tuitt Against The Tennessee Titans

If there is one player on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster poised to have a breakout season, it is fifth-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt. After an injury-plagued 2017 season, Tuitt has returned this preseason stronger and more focus that has ever been in his career thus far. His preseason game against the Tennessee Titans was dominant and perhaps served as a message for all opposing offensive linemen in the AFC. From what I viewed on practically every series, Tuitt was doing either one three things: stopping the run, getting pressure on the quarterback, or beating the opposing lineman. In essence, Tuitt had his way throughout much of the game and the Titans have little to no answers for him.

Showing New Techniques

 

One of the signs of an evolving player is when they add new skills to their repertoire. Tuitt is generally recognized for his strength and seldom his finesse; however what he did in this sequence was impressive. Steelers are showing a three-man front with two defensive linemen (Cameron Heyward is the other lineman), and Bud Dupree playing outside on the left. Coming from the right side, Tuitt gets a good jump when the ball is snapped. As the Titans tackle tries to engage with him, Tuitt deflects his right arm and spins inside. Had Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota held the ball a few more seconds, this would have been a sack, yet the resultant his pressure was an incomplete pass.

Interesting note: The type of maneuver executed by Tuitt in this play, is very similar to the type of block seen in karate called a ‘uke’. The manner in which he deflected the Titans arm, was very similar to a high block called ‘jodan uke’. Martial arts techniques if used effectively can benefit a lineman when playing in the trenches.

Stopping The Run

 

The zone blocking scheme has become a staple in way team execute their ground offense in today’s NFL.  In this sequence, Tuitt is now on playing at the left defensive end spot. As the ball is snapped, the Titans offensive line start their zone block sequence. Tuitt plays this perfectly by disengaging from the Titans guard and having the presence of mind to assist in stopping the run. In this type of scheme, the idea is to wash the lineman complete out of the play. Credit should also be given to outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo for setting the edge on this play.

 

Stopping The Run Part 2

 

This was, in my opinion, the signature play of the Steelers defensive front in this game. In this sequence, Tuitt is seen at the defensive left tackle position. When the ball is snapped, the Titans offensive line begins their zone blocking scheme. Tuitt in this case, as well as the rest of the Steelers front, played this perfectly, as Dupree is able to set the edge; while Heyward overpowers his man, giving no room for the Titans running back run. Tuitt uses his left arm to create separation and disengages to assist on the play.

There is no question that Tuitt is due for a breakout type season, and all signs point to this season being his time. The only thing that can stop Tuitt from succeeding is his health; otherwise, if he stays healthy, skies the limit to how far he can rise.

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